Thought Experiments – Grey Nature 1

(by John Foxx)

The cities of the modern world are now becoming big enough to create their own unique ecologies. So – posit the emergence of a new form of nature – a nature existing as a result of urbanity. Grey Nature – capable of supporting entities every bit as fascinating and complex as anything in Green Nature.

Recently we have had the sudden shift of most of humanity into urban environments. From now on, this is our true native ecology.
Life of all kinds – avian, insect, animal, viral, bacterial, has long colonised and adapted itself into new forms in response to the unique conditions it encounters. 
The modern city offers a myriad of new niches to be colonised, all with wildly differing dimensions and properties – wet, dry, hot, dark, light, cold, lateral, vertical, etc, – all capable of encouraging and supporting surprising variations and adaptations.
The ambient temperature is higher, because buildings throw off heat. Day and night are less extreme because of shadows, tunnels and electric light.

Urban Weather Systems.
Cities are beginning to make their own weather. The cloud cover over London consists largely of evaporated moisture exuded from the bodies of millions of people – sweat, urine, exhalations of various kinds – all rising on the heat generated from the city until it meets colder air, where it precipitates before gently raining back down on us.
This veil of breath and sweat is one of the reasons London can be so grey. The city is creating its own cloud cover.
The city is also a few degrees higher in temperature than its surroundings. The buildings throw off a tremendous amount of heat from heating, ventilation and refrigeration systems and the output from vehicles of all kinds. The mass of human beings in that environment also generate a significant amount of body heat, which rises with the rest.
Size is important – as the territory occupied by the city grows, so does its direct environmental influence. In some situations, the major modern city is now big enough to begin to generate its own weather. It can make its own cloud cover, atmospheric moisture, rain and temperature.

Electrical Soup.
Because of live electrical wiring, each room and each building is an electromagnetic cage of great intensity. Electrical and magnetic fields abound, and their effects are as yet unknown.
Underground railways are powered by vast electrical and magnetic fields, while microwaves, radio, television, telephone, security, remote control, various sensors and other systems are constantly intersecting through the air, interpenetrating minds, bodies and buildings.
Every day we all move through a multiplicity of high and low power electromagnetic fields.
Our own delicately balanced nervous system depends on – and is therefore very sensitive to – minute charges of electromagnetic energy. So how is this system affected by, how is it responding and adapting to, all the various electromagnetic fields it is being subjected to?

Viral Spirals.
Novel chemical, microbiological and viral interactions – carrying unforeseeable consequences – occur daily. The effects of these individually is unknown – their cumulative, cocktail, exponential, interactive effects are unguessable.

Epidemia.
Interaction between potential hosts and transmitters of various kinds – the presence and proximity of incredibly concentrated human, insect, animal, bacteriological and viral entities – provides many potential routes for novel parasites, symbiots and mutations of these.
The effects of those that can be recognised by their tendency to cause sickness are held at bay by antibiotics and other medical technologies. These technologies have made intensive, close proximity living possible for millions of urban humans.
Benign, subtle, beneficial or very long term retroviral or evolutionary effects remain unrecognised, overlooked or unsuspected.

Exponential Psychic Synchrony and Amplifications.
Then there is the unexamined potential of interplay between all the interpersonal, psychic effects of mass proximity.
From now on, we may begin to witness the emergence of effects never seen before – simply because there have never been so many human beings before.
Previously unsuspected interactions and accumulations of individual magnetic fields, thought energies, and other subtle fields of awareness and mental activity.
Individually, these may be barely detectible, but cumulatively, in millions – or tens of millions – they may begin to manifest significant effects.
For instance, there may be various radiant, interactive or cumulative effects generated by common, long term activities and stimulations – television, radio, telephony, cinema news reading, fashion, culture, politics, erotic stimulations, fictions etc.
Add to these the vast psychic synchronies of, say, a seemingly mundane rhythmic event, such as the mass daily occurrence of urban waking – and even sleeping and dreaming – which are so far unexamined and which may create previously unsuspected fields of interaction.
(I used to feel that I was only free of the huge psychic hum of London at night, after the point when most people lapsed into sleep -so I would often work then, enjoying the feeling of relief and space that gradually eroded as the city woke up again in the morning).
The effects of such mass temporal synchrony and the resulting conscious and unconscious – even biological – fields they may create are so far unexamined.
Are there unrecognised fields of temporal and behavioural perception, and other connective behaviours, which may be amplified through long term participation in the mass life of a city?
We know that women sharing a habitation will unknowingly synchronise their menstrual cycles, for instance – and that a crowd can become another entity, capable of overriding individual considerations. So what might millions of beings in close proximity – undergoing constant and intense cultural and temporal orchestrations and synchronies – eventually manifest?
There is also the factor of acceleration – things must happen much more quickly in this environment, because the environment is constantly shifting and rearranging itself.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 JOURNAL